The Northern Lights Choir, under the direction of Helen Demong, will perform music by Berstein, Copland, and premiere the concert version of Glenn McClure’s, “Adirondack Folk Opera,” this Friday, May 13th , 8 pm, St. Bernard’s Church in Saranac Lake, NY. Tickets $12 at the door
Listen to NPR interview including a song sample.
Glenn McClure Composer’s Notes:
“This concert represents the next step in a multi-year project: the creation of an Adirondack Folk Opera based on the unique Adirondack abolition story, Timbuctoo. While these choral works and arias do not tell the whole story, they explore key ideas and historical moments. Act I introduces the premise for the settlement: to fulfill the land ownership requirement for voting in the 1850’s. It also sweeps us up into the optimism that drove many to the Adirondacks. “Come On Up” reminds us of the minstrel music that took the nation by storm in the mid 19th century. Act II opens with an exploration of the complex and often competing social movements of the time and closes with the reminder that the natural world unites us despite our human conflicts. Act III takes us to the funeral of John Brown after his fateful attack on the Harper’s Ferry armory. We are reminded of the religious diversity (Catholic and Protestant) of the region with a new setting of the Latin prayer, “Ave Maria” and the hymn, “Blow Ye Trumpets, Blow” that Lyman Epps sang at this event in July 1859. Act IV conveys a recommitment to the ideals of Timbuctoo that resonates into our lives as citizens of a democratic nation.
This music is infused with both human history and natural history. The final section of “Procession of the Pines” demonstrates the transformation of scientific data into musical notes. The data, from Dr. Curt Stager’s research, represents the remains of microscopic plant-like algae called “diatoms” in Wolf Lake. Diatoms float about in the lake during summer, but they die in winter and sink to the bottom where their glassy shells remain for thousands of years. Wolf Lake is unique in being one of the few remaining examples of what Adirondack lakes were like before the last century of environmental woes. It acts as a sentinel that can warn of future changes that may come as the world warms. The abundance of diatoms tells us how wet or dry the Adirondack climate was in the past. In this musical translation, higher pitches say “wetter” and lower pitches say “drier.” The ups and downs of the piano part represent natural climate fluctuations through the centuries. These numbers go up during 1800’s in response to human interventions. Wolf Lake is singing to us a story of change. Since the 19th century, that song has been a joint composition between climate and people.”
We plan to develop this concert version into a fully-staged production. If you are interested to help fund the next phase of the Adirondack Folk Opera, please contact Glenn McClure or Helen Demong at firstname.lastname@example.org.